Everything is more fun with your best friend, including going swimming! But, you are in charge of keeping your pup safe, since they may be more focused on ducks or sticks. Here are some safety tips for swimming with your dog:
1. Know Your Dog’s Breed Well
Different kinds of dogs have different levels of swimming ability and face different potential risks when going swimming. So, it’s important to read up online about your dog’s breed and consult your vet about your planned swimming trip.
Golden Retrievers and Labradors are pretty much the pros of swimming in the canine world. They still need you to look out for them, though. Don’t abandon your role as lifeguard even if your dog seems like they are a better swimmer than you are.
Short-legged dogs, like Basset Hounds and Bulldogs, should be watched very closely – their swimming ability is likely to be poor as their legs are too short to propel them very far, fast, or efficiently. And, when it comes to skinny dogs who have very little body fat, the risk of sinking is higher.
2. Get Some Safety Gear
It may embarrass your dog a little at first, but they will forgive you when they realize how much safer it makes them feel. If you let your dog swim in a lake, a river, or the ocean, a life jacket is definitely something to consider.
Even if your dog is a good swimmer, a life jacket could help to make you less nervous and will help them stay afloat if they get fatigued. However, safety gear does not relieve you of the duty of watching your pup in the water. You need to keep a close eye on them, especially if your dog is in a body of water with currents.
3. Don’t Rush Your Dog Into Swimming
If you like the idea of taking your dog swimming, but they have never actually been in a body of water before, don’t push them too hard. You may have to train your pup to be comfortable getting in the water. If you simply throw your dog overboard when they don’t want to go, you’re putting their safety at risk.
Pay attention to the signals your dog is giving you. If they seem nervous around a body of water, lead them to the shallows at first and let them get used to how it feels. You can do this by standing in the water yourself a short distance from your dog and calling your dog to you.
When they get to you, give them praise or a little treat. Keep this going until you’re farther out in the water and your dog is swimming. Don’t stay out too long and put a life jacket on them for extra safety assurance.
4. Watch for Signs of Fatigue
Even dogs that are excellent swimmers can fall victim to fatigue. A fatigued dog can easily drown or be overpowered by even the slightest current. This is why safety gear, like a life jacket, and keeping an eye on your dog are so important. If your dog is an avid swimmer or is fetching things from the water, give them frequent breaks or call them out of the water for breaks so they can relax, catch their breath, and rehydrate before jumping back in.
5. Be Wary of Stagnant Water
Think again about letting your dog jump into that pond or other stagnant water. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes and collects algae. Not only can blue-green algae be potentially fatal if your dog ingests it, but they can also contract a bunch of different harmful parasites should they drink the water.
On top of that, mosquitoes carry heartworm, which is a life-threatening parasite that can be transferred to your dog. Even if your dog is up to date on their heartworm prevention medication, you don’t want to expose them to it unnecessarily.
6. Stay Aware of Health Warnings
No matter where you are, even if it’s the river you grew up swimming in, make sure you stay aware of current health warnings for the area. A lot of parasites make their home in or near bodies of water and sometimes they can cause issues. If there is a health warning out for human swimmers, make sure you take note and both you and your dog stay away from contaminated water.
7. Ensure There is an Easy Exit
Whether it’s your inground pool or a boat trip out on the lake, make sure there is an easy exit for your dog when they are in the water. A boat ladder for dogs can make a big difference for that trip out on the lake. If you’re an avid boater, make sure you’re keeping these other boat safety tips for dogs in mind when you bring your dog along for the ride.
A ramp or ladder for dogs can provide an easy exit for your dog from the pool. A standard pool ladder should not be considered an easy exit for your dog as your dog can’t reliably navigate it, especially if they are tired or not feeling well. As such, access to above-ground pools should be limited.
Going swimming with your dog can be a great activity for you both. By using these safety tips for swimming with your dog, you can make sure it is a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.